I'm contemplating a new purchase in the autumn ready for the winter lamping campaign and have a few ideas but I would also like to hear other peoples opinions on what I would like to buy. Previously, I have borrowed our keepers .17 and .22 whilst shooting from the roof of his landrover and have quickly found favour with the "seventeen". It seems to offer more opportunities at rangier quarry which would either not be attempted with the .22 or require more thought time to estimate hold-over etc in which time a rabbit could think twice about standing still. Also, I find the whine of a ricocheting .22 round un-nerving no matter how safe the backstop might be! Similarly i've found there to be less estimating required for hold-under of closer range quarry. Looking at things from a pest control perspective on the estate where I work, the combo needs to be right for me and the seventeen doesn't half have some stopping power! Given these reasons and a financial situation which dictates I only have room in my cabinet for one small rifle at present I have decided to opt for a .17 of my own. Don't get me wrong, in future years when funds allow I may well acquire a .22 to stand alongside it in the cabinet as shooting the .22 over a variety of ranges certainly sharpens the brain up! Anyway, waffling aside here is what I was thinking about and I would like to hear your recommendations and thoughts:
The .17 I have borrowed is a CZ 452 Varmint which has had some work done locally at a small extra cost. The barrel has been shortened for daily use in the landrover. It has also been re-crowned and threaded for a SAK moderator. The trigger has been tuned to give a very light pull indeed. The optics fitted to it are in the form of a Leupold VX-2 3-9x50 with a fine duplex reticle. I have got on reasonably well with this combo though it does seem to have a "blip" at about 80 yards where it seems to throw the bullet slightly high (is this common to other .17's, I am interested to know?).
I like the idea of the value and reliability of the CZ - it seems to shoot relatively flat out to 100 yards other than this slight "blip" i mention, for not a lot of money. If it turns out to be anything like his and many other old BRNO .22's it should withstand many years of punishment too. I don't want to spend a lot of gold on a rifle which is invariably going to get knocked about on the roof rack whilst driving over frozen rutted land in the dark, but I do want an action of proven quality. What other options would I have if I weren't to choose a CZ? Do Ruger or Anchutz for example offer a similar varmint rimfire for the money?
Moderator wise, I am told the SAK was recommended to him several years ago when he first bought the gun - is there anything better on offer now as on a still night it does seem to bark-out fairly for a small rifle?
As for the optics, I may need to look for something slightly more powerful to get the most out of a .17 as my right eye is noticeably weaker than my left and I own neither glasses or contact lenses. I stalk deer and lamp foxes with a Leupold Vari-X 3 3.5-12x50 with a fine duplex reticle and find this to be suitable for long range shots as the fine crosshairs to not block out the target, making shots easier to place with my poorer eye. Again, I don't want to spend the earth as the combo will be treated solely as a working tool, however I do like to buy quality once rather than cheaply twice. Obviously whatever I choose must do the rifle justice shot after shot after shot.
Should I look at entry level optics from a slightly pricier manufacturer such as Leupold or Zeiss for example or top of the range items from a cheaper maker such as Hawke? I know a .17 experiences only a small amount of recoil, but is this enough to throw a cheaper scope off zero?
Scope mounts - Rather a grey area for me, I don't know a lot about their pro's and cons. What I will say is that I should have no need to quickly detach a scope so I presume the main requirements are that they do not move, bend, break, damage the scope or foul the action! Your suggestions please...
Trigger wise, for the quick opportunistic shots that my rabbiting sometimes demands, while great for deer stalking, I can't see a place for a single set trigger and would like to stick to the setup I already know with a basic but finely tuned standard trigger.
I guess I want to spend as little as possible on a rifle which will remain accurate and reliable for many years in order to leave me with as much as possible to spend on optics which will be powerful enough for me and even be fitted to another rifle in years to come.
Before anyone points out the cost difference in .17 and .22 ammo, that will fortunately not be an issue.
Sorry for being long-winded, but I like to be as thorough as possible to try to get it right first time without spending an excessive amount of money!